INCHER research paper published in PNAS
link to the PNAS article
The new article is the first major publication from INCHER's Showing Life Opportunities project, a large-scale collaboration project with colleagues from the World Bank, ENSAE, HEC Paris and the University of Cologne. The project provided online STEM and entrepreneurship courses to about 45,000 students in Ecuador, and used a large-scale randomised controlled field experiment to study the effectiveness of the online training.
As is well known since the COVID-19 pandemic, online formats allow for broad participation in education and training opportunities. Also well known are the difficulties of ensuring learner participation in such formats, which is a prerequisite for learning success. The study now appearing in PNAS explores several ways to increase participation in online training. It highlights the importance of effectively managing educational interventions, also for concerns of equity in educational opportunity. Specifically, the authors provide evidence that a central monitoring system systematically improves participation and learning outcomes, particularly benefiting students in lower-performing schools. In contrast, no systematic effects are found for "nudges" designed to spur teachers by means of reminder or encouragement emails, or by comparing their classes with those of other teachers. There are also no systematic effects for "nudges" at the student level. Financial incentives induce students to spend more time on the online learning platform, but have no effect on learning success.
Co-author and INCHER senior researcher Dr. Igor Asanov about the results:
“We iteratively experimented on different levels of organizing the online educational process in schools across Ecuador. Whereas student- or teacher-level interventions showed limited impact, we found that cheap (lower than 60 cents per student) online learning management system for centralized monitoring improves students' performance on the knowledge tests. The size of the improvement is similar to large educational interventions in low- and middle-income countries and is comparable to how much a student might learn in 71 percent of a year of business-as-usual schooling in grade 12. These findings encourage moving beyond the student level in online education interventions, focusing on the system that unites people to educate and build a better future “
Igor Asanov, Anastasiya-Mariya Asanov (Noha), Thomas Åstebro, Guido Buenstorf, Bruno Crépon, David McKenzie, Francisco Pablo Flores T., Mona Mensmann & Mathis Schulte (2023): "System-, Teacher-, and Student-level Interventions for Improving Participation in Online Learning at Scale in High Schools", Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), 2023 Vol. 120 No. 30 e2216686120; https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2216686120
Innovation Growth Lab Blog: Showing Life Opportunities: Improving outcomes in online learning at scale in High School - focus on the system. By Igor Asanov, Anastasiya-Mariya Asanov, Thomas Åstebro, Guido Buenstorf, Bruno Crépon, Francisco Pablo Flores T., David McKenzie, Mona Mensmann, Mathis Schulte on Monday, 17 July 2023.